10 Ways to Save Money at the Movie Theater

by Tracy · 1 comment

My kids are probably sick of me joking that I need to take out a second mortgage every time we go to the movies as a family, but if you’ve been to the cinema lately, you know that an evening at the cinema is fast becoming a serious luxury for most families. Here are a few suggestions on how to make going to the movies more affordable.

1. Skip the popcorn, drink and candy for most shows. It adds a lot to your expenses and winds up on your waistline. If you need something to do with your mouth, chew gum instead.

2. Look for discount movie passes at retailers like Costco. Multi-packs of cinema passes or gift cards are more widely available around the holidays but it is possible to find them at other times of the year.

If you have a big family and go to the movies a lot or have several friends that will go in with you, check out your local chain’s website and see if they offer larger packs that are generally sold for corporate giving. These cost a lot upfront (at my cinema it’s $350 for 50 VIP passes, or $7 a ticket) but you can save around 25% off the price of regular adult admission. Be sure to read through the terms and conditions carefully before purchasing.

3. Keep your ears open for announcements about special free movie screenings. These are usually announced on local radio stations and in free weekly papers or you could do a search for “free movie screenings” + your town to look for websites or feeds that you can subscribe to to stay abreast. Warning – these passes go quickly and sometimes are given away as contest prizes instead of to the first X number of people who request them so act fast.

4. Matinees are a few bucks cheaper than evening shows and depending on the film, you might find that the audience is more sedate and the whole experience is much more pleasant. These savings really add up if you’re taking an entire family to the movies.

A caveat, if you are an adult without children who wants to see a movie that appeals heavily to children, it might be worth paying the money for a late night viewing!

5. 3D isn’t always worth the premium. Many movies seem to be adding 3D these days just because they can and it really doesn’t add that much to the experience. The glasses can be uncomfortable, especially for small children. Read the reviews to see if it’s worth paying the premium to view the movie in 3D.

6. Ask about rewards schemes or other incentives. For example, AMC theaters offers a MovieWatcher Rewards Program that gives 2 points for every ticket purchased. You’ll need 100 points to earn a free ticket, small popcorn and drink so it’s not a huge savings but better than nothing.

7. Look for coupons. Groupon recently teamed up with Fandango to offer movie tickets for $4; it’s likely that similar deals will happen in the future with other coupon sites/cinema chains. Entertainment coupon books are another source of discount tickets. Be sure to read the fine print to get all the details on any restrictions on when and how you can redeem your coupon.

8. If you’re lucky enough to live in an area with a drive-in, check them out for great deals. In college, we took full advantage of “pay by the car” night! Many drive-ins also are fine with you bringing in your own food.

This can be a very good option for parents of babies as you can bring your child with you and not have to find and pay for a sitter.

9. Second run theaters are a good option if you don’t mind waiting to see the film. Prices vary by area, but are generally ore than half off of first-run prices. If you have smaller children, it’s a good way to do a “trial run” of taking them to the movies as you won’t be out much if it turns out they aren’t ready to sit through a showing and you have to leave early.

10. Buy your tickets at the door. Paying for your tickets online at places like Fandango can save you from waiting in line, but you’ll pay a buck or two per ticket for the privilege. This isn’t so bad if you’re buying just one ticket but adds up quickly for a family of four or more. Instead, plan on getting to the theater early to buy your tickets then enjoy a nice walk around the block while you wait.

How do you save money on movie tickets?

Bonus Tip:

Another way to save on your monthly Internet and TV costs is to find a current ATT U-Verse coupon code or at least a promotion to knock down your home service bill.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Walt D in LV December 30, 2011 at 6:58 pm

We buy the refillable bucket of popcorn. Before the movies starts, I put it into another container (Walmart bag, or three cardboard box/drink trays – 1 for each kid) and refill it before the movie even starts.

When my kids were younger, I would get the large drink as well. Pour it into three courtesy cups, and refill IT before the movie started as well.

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